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eastern Bolivia
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Friday, 27 October 2017

As soon as the brazilian border is crossed, we are welcomed in Bolivia by a muddy track in bad condition, a foretaste of what we’ll encounter in the country, and teenage soldiers chewing coca... Checkpoints (sometimes handmade) are plentiful in this area were a lot of drug is smuggled. Controls are eccentric as these soldiers don't get to see foreigners documents very often

bolivia checkpoint bolivia checkpoint

After 400km of painful road we arrive in San Ignacio de Velasco, first stop in the chiquitanos jesuit missions route (registered as world heritage). We will visit 5 of them, quite different from the ones we have seen in Paraguay, as they are in cob and hand painted, both inside and outside. All these churches are still used and the area keeps a very strong musical culture. In Santa Ana, we got to see an organ dating from the 18th century!

san ignacio san ignacio san rafael san rafael

santa ana 1 santa ana 1 santa ana 2 santa ana 2

san jose san jose village village

Attracted by the adventure, we go to the unknown Noel Kampff Mercado national park, UNESCO too, but also mysterious to the guide books and local tourist offices. After driving 200 km deep in the jungle, crossing some fords and big puddles of mud, passing by remote villages, here we are! At the entrance of the park, we eventually meet the park guard, who tells us that, as the barge used to cross the last river stream is no longer in use, we can’t cross with the car, and therefore have to walk the last 30km under 40°C and without water supply along the way before arriving at the interesting part of the park. All what used to be day hikes are now turned into 5 to 6 days expeditions in the jungle!

route noel kempff 1 route noel kempff 1 route noel kempff 2 route noel kempff 2

route noel kempff 3 route noel kempff 3

Back in the civilized world, we treat ourselves with a nice hotel with swimming pool and hammocks in San Jose de Chiquitos, were we see some dancing rehearsal.

villa chiquitana villa chiquitana

Our last stop before leaving the heat (and mosquitoes) of the plain is Santa Cruz, huge rich city where we can buy some luxury goods such as chocolate. We have some beers with a german expatriate who tells us that this area is strongly against the current government, which explains all the “EVO NO” signs, painted on many walls. Indeed, his politics in favor of poor indigenous people is not right for rich entrepreneurs.

santa cruz detour santa cruz detour above san jose above san jose

After a brief interlude when we had to force the car open because we forgot the keys inside, we go to the west and the fresh air of the altiplano.



#1 jeremy 2017-11-08 18:43
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